Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival 2024

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The 26th edition of the Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival (TISFF) will take place from August 14 – 20, 2024. Considered one of the top student and short film festivals worldwide, TISFF is a personal favorite of mine for its creativity and energy. Screening close to 100 short films from 25 countries, the festival also reflects the current reality in Israel, with special events and a focus on the role of art and filmmaking in times of crisis. Although the festival usually takes place in June, due to the changes in the academic calendar imposed by current circumstances, it will be held in August. New this year: on the final day of the festival there will be a screening of all the award-winning films. The festival is an all-volunteer effort, produced and run by students of The Steve Tisch School of Film & Television at Tel Aviv University.

Festival Directors Ori Arthur Wolf and Gal Ostrinsky released a statement: “Ever since the beginning of the war the importance of the festival has come into focus for us in the preliminary events that we held, whether these were screenings for children who were displaced from their homes or zoom meetings that we held with filmmakers from abroad that were a beacon of light for the film students. TISFF is an event that awakens hope and creativity, audiences and festival volunteers await it with expectation each year. We think that beyond its visual and entertainment aspects that let viewers escape to imaginary realms, art and culture also connects us to reality from a different perspective, gives voice to the cries of the heart and the protests of the public and brings calm and emotional support to those who need it. We hope that the festival will give our audiences strength during these hard times and we hope for the immediate return of all the hostages and the end of the war.”

David Mamet/Photo: Pam Susemiehl

The festival will host several leading film industry members as guests of the festival, who will conduct master classes and screen their films. American playwright and filmmaker David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, The Untouchables) and in addition to a masterclass, will host the screening of his films House of Games (1987) and State and Main (2000). Accompanying Mamet will be his wife, the actor Rebecca Pidgeon, who will host an intimate meeting with Israeli actors and young filmmakers on her acting methods in film and theatre.

Juliette Welfling/Photo courtesy of PR

5-time César Award winner, French film editor Juliette Welfling will conduct a masterclass that will be open to the public. Welfling was nominated for an Oscar for her editing of Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007), and in addition to her longtime collaboration with Jacques Audiard, including the most recent Emilia Perez, Welfling has also edited Asghar Faradi’s The Past (2013), Michel Gondry’s The Science of Sleep (2006), the first film of The Hunger Games (2012) and Ocean’s 8 (2018), both directed by Gary Ross.

Isaac Nabwana/Photo courtesy of PR

Ugandan filmmaker Isaac Nabwana, also known as Nabwana I.G.G., is considered one of the pioneers of the Ugandan film industry. Working with extremely low budgets, together with his wife Harriet Nabwana, who will accompany him at the festival, he founded Ramon Film Productions (Wakaliwood), known for its no-budget action films. His film Who Killed Captain Alex?  is known for its creative use of limited means. The festival will feature the world premiere of his new film Operation Wakaliga: Fate and Blood, which he filmed with Israeli filmmakers Maya Rudich and Uri Jacobovich, as well as a screening of his film Football Kommando at Teder. Nabwana will conduct a practical workshop for film students, as well as a masterclass open to the public.

Lars Henrik Gass is the Director of the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen – the oldest short film festival in the world, in which leading filmmakers such was Wim Wenders, Andrea Arnold and Milos Forman were first discovered. Known for his essays and critiques of film and culture, Gass has published several books, including Film and Art After Cinema. Gass will be on the jury for the Israeli film competition.

The Guard/Photo: Maayan Buchnik

The festival will open on August 14, 2024, with festive, pre-premiere screenings of two films, and will be hosted by Yossi Marshak.  The Guard, by Roy Kanevsky, won the Short on the Way pitching competition in 2023, a joint initiative of the Gesher Multicultural Film Fund and TISFF. The film is centered on Luda, an immigrant from the former USSR, who works as a museum guard. Following an embarrassing incident, she understands that she pays a price for her shyness and language issues. She decides to confront her greatest fear – talking people, and stop being “invisible” to those around her. Kanevsky is an independent filmmaker who has made several short films. A director of advertisements, clips and promotional films, he served in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. He cast the film with non-actors.

Glug/Photo: Ori Gold

Glug, a short, animated film by Ori Gold, was developed in the Animation Shorts Project, a joint initiative of the Makor Foundation and TISFF. Its premise: On a small planet made of flesh and blood, a strange relationship between its only inhabitant and the fruit tree that feeds him becomes disrupted by the appearance of a very sweet creature. The stop-motion animated film was made with the support of the Makor Foundation, Mifal HaPais, and the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund. Gold is a graduate of Bezalel who has shown his films at several festivals, including the Annecy International Animation Film Festival.

Festival Events Reflecting these Turbulent Times

Is the Personal Political? The role of personal stories in a time of national crisis – a panel discussion will take place to discuss these issues and the role of art in times of war and crisis. The event is a joint initiative with the “Unimaginable Cinema Project.” The project originated in an article by film scholar and critic Shani Kiniso that seeks to create a meaningful conversation on the role of Israeli cinema after October 7th. The project members are Shani Kiniso, Shira Havron, Yahel Kabiri, and Lia Dekel.

A tribute in memory of filmmaker Yahav Weiner who was murdered by Hamas in his home at Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7, 2024. His film The Boy won Best Cinematography at the 25th Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival. Filmmaker Shaylee Atari, Yahav’s widow, as well as members of Kfar Aza who participated in the making of the film, will discuss Yahav Wiener’s unique work methods, and his legacy. In his films, Wiener depicted the human and physical landscape of those Israeli communities bordering Gaza – a region that is almost never seen in Israeli cinema, through a unique cinematic aesthetic, and, primarily, through his close work with the members of Kibbutz Kfar Aza. Wiener cast kibbutz members in key roles whether as actors or members of production crew or costume design, and consulted with them on the film’s art design. The communal aspect of the film’s production reflects the essence of life so close to a dangerous border.

A tribute in memory of Maya Puder, who was murdered at the Nova Festival on October 7, 2024. Maya was about to begin her second year of studies in the production program at the Steve Tisch School of Film & Television at Tel Aviv University. She worked as a volunteer in the 25th edition of TISFF in 2023. The memorial will be hosted by Zohar Orbach and Maya Dagan.  Maya Puder’s mother recounts that Maya loved to sing and dance, and the festival will celebrate Maya Puder’s life in a special karaoke screening.

A photography exhibit featuring works by youths who have been displaced from their homes in the North and South of Israel, led by Yael Hotomlanski. The youths, ages 13 – 20, from Kiryat Shmona, Kibbutz Re’im, and towns in the Eshkol region, participated in analog photography workshops where they were asked to document the limbo in which they now found themselves, living in temporary quarters in Netanya, Tel Aviv, and Ein Yahav, far from their homes.

The festival will hold five major competitions: the Israeli Competition, the International Competition, the Short Independent Film Competition, the Experimental Film & Video Competition, and the Digital Media Competition. This year, for the first time, there will also be a competition for Israeli high school student films. The full schedule and additional information will be available on the TISFF website.

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